BY LILA HOPE-SIMPSON
If anyone invites me to a potluck any time this fall, I can tell you right now what you'll be getting: apple crisp, apple pie, apple cake, apple sauce or apple strudel.
That's because I have one apple tree in my yard that produces an abundance of apples every other year, and this is the lucky year.
My nursery school children can tell you that they get apple slices regularly with their snacks and they never turn them down. ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away,' so what better snack is there to feed growing preschoolers?
Since we're going on our annual trek to the orchards this week for a wagon ride and apple picking, we are learning about apples at school- how they grow from seeds to blossoms to apples, what types there are and what we can make from apples.
Of course, we also like to make crafts with apples, like dipping apple halves into paint and printing so we can see the ‘star' in the middle.
Remember how we used to bob for apples at birthday and Halloween parties when we were kids? Can you imagine doing such an activity today where everyone's mouths dip into the same basin of water? Parents and teachers would be horrified at the health risks.
After a few weeks when the stored apples begin to look less appealing I set in for a day of applesauce production. I make a big batch of sauce, bag it into small zip-lock bags and freeze it. Since they are organic apples I leave the peel on and cook them down with no added sugar since they are sweet enough.
For a quick and simple low fat, healthy dessert, try this easy apple crisp recipe:
6 to 8 apples
½-cup rolled oats
½-cup brown sugar
1-tablespoon ground flax (optional)
Peel and slice apples (I confess I sometimes don't even bother peeling them, especially if they are organic) and place them in an ungreased baking dish.
Sprinkle liberally with ground cinnamon.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Flax is optional, but I add a pinch to just about everything I bake for the added nutritional value.
Cut the margarine into the dry ingredients until crumbly.
Sprinkle topping over the apples and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
Add any fruit to the apple or substitute for a delicious fruit crisp. I often add cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb, peaches or pears.
Serve hot with vanilla ice cream et voila!
Next year our tree will probably produce about half a dozen apples and we'll leave them for the birds and squirrels, but this autumn we will enjoy the abundance and indulge in apple-induced dishes galore.
Lila Hope-Simpson is the Director of the Home & Heart Child Development Centre and Family Day Care Agency in Wolfville. www.homeandheart.org